Frankly, when my pal Julie recommended I read Rick Marin's new book, Cad: Confessions of a Toxic Bachelor (Hyperion, $23.95), I was a little afraid. She assured me that not only was it hysterical but that it would give me great insight into the mind of the single man. But see, I've been dating a lot lately and wasn't sure I really wanted to know what was going on inside there. For the most part, what they chose to show me voluntarily was frightening enough.
But crack it I did. And once I started, I couldn't put it down. At first I took comfort in the fact that most of the women Marin went out with were so annoying I couldn't blame him for dumping themthey were awful. As I well know, when you're rewriting history, the author always puts their own spin on things. I telephoned Mr. Marin and asked him if these were true-to-life representations of girlfriends or just composites. He said it varied by circumstance, but that wasn't really the point. "What I tried to show was at first the fascination and then it turning to not being interested anymore," he explained. The slide show in my mind immediately flashed to a vision of the Herpetic Bass Player's face midway through our second, (in retrospect) overly long date. He'd seemed to like me so much just two days earlier, but immediately afterward went into deep cover. "Like how you can go from being so into someone to then not wanting to ever hear from them again," he continued helpfully. Erm, yeah, I agreed, in what I hoped was a knowing tone.
While still clutching my all-access pass to the inner machinations of the male psyche, I wanted to find out what every girl wants to know: What in the hell do men look for in a broad? Marin writes that most women are either too crazy or too sane. "The formula I've arrived at is what you want is crazy on the outside, and sane on the insidesomeone who has the surface qualities of the crazy chick, but has a solid core." Hey! That's me!
Thumbing through my Big Book of Bad Dates, I wondered what distinguished a cad from your run-of-the-mill fuck-n-dump jackass. "A jerk has no charm," he explained. "A cad has some wit, some charm." I thought back to the guy who'd shit himself in my bed. Cads were starting to sound vaguely appealing. "He's not self-involved, he doesn't talk about his therapy for five hours . . . he's fixated on you; very interested in you."
Interested in me? Really? I was starting to get excited. "I argue that a woman is better off with a cad than a so-called nice guy. Because she'll look back on the two of them and think, 'At least I had fun with the cad.'" But wait . . . either way, the girl gets dumped.
Rick's amorous adventures were aided by a pseudo-sensitive guy move he perfected over the course of many first dates. At a pivotal moment, he would bring up the fact that he was once married. He would then remove his glasses for emphasis and shoot his prey the wounded puppy look. As I was reading it, the ploy sounded foreign and somewhat forcednobody'd ever worked a pity-party scam like that on this girl. But thenthe very next dayI met up with a seemingly nice guy for our first (and only) date. Midway through our alcoholic beverage, he let slip that both his parents had died when he was very young and he'd grown up in an orphanage. Very sad, sure, but the coincidence was jarring. This was his faux-nice-guy maneuver! Knowledge is power! My mouth involuntarily curled itself into a smirk. I couldn't see him, but I could feel Rick nodding over the telephone as I relayed this tale. "If I can help women see through the ruses, in a small way, I've done my part."
But that guy had been really cute, and I'd blown it by tipping my hand. "Don't you think that if we can see through men, we're never going to get laid again?" I fretted. "The trick is to see through them and be amused, rather than offended or turned off," he assured me. "That was the case with Ilene, who I end up with. She saw through it, but it didn't bother herin fact, she thought it was kind of funny."
Ah yes, Ilene. The Great Cad Reformer. Like all good fairy tales, Rick's has a happy ending. After slutting his way through his late 20s and early 30s, he stumbled upon Ilene, the woman who turned this cad into a good guy. They're even getting married in the spring. What was her secret? How does one get a guy to toss aside his caddish ways? "The woman can't get him there," he said. "He has to get himself there. If you aren't the right one for him, you can try all you want and it's going to be useless. But if you are, then you don't have to try at all because he'll do it all himself." Oh.
Just call me Miss Wrong.
Rick Marin reads from Cad: Confessions of a Toxic Bachelor at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21 at Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way N.E., suite A-101, Lake Forest Park.
Cad magnet? Write Dategirl at firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western, Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104.